I’ve never written a beer review before. Sometimes, wine & beer reviews intimidate me. All this talk of “flavor profiles” and “top notes” and “slight chocolate-raspberry taste with a hint of caramel and aged oak lingering in the nasal passages, scented with honey.” Huh? I’m not demeaning detailed reviews – I think they’re very cool, especially if you really know what you’re doing, and maybe after a few tastings or a class I’ll be able to appreciate that more.
But what I want to know is simple. What kind of beer drinkers might like this beer? What other beers are similar? What can I eat with it? What are some flavors I can actually pick out after a sip or two?
Arrogant Bastard Ale was the perfect beer to start off with. It’s not subtle. It’s not nuanced. It’s a strong beer with strong flavors, and it either makes best friends or enemies (but mostly best friends) with beer drinkers due to its flavor, depth, and a slightly increased alcohol content.
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co., from San Diego, CA
Beer: Arrogant Bastard Ale
Bottle, Can, or Draft: 1 Pint Bottle
Flavor Profile: A smooth ale that is darker and richer than most. Full-on hops, but the bitterness is tempered with a caramel sweetness.
User Profile: Arrogant Bastard seems to either have its diehards or those that try it for novelty’s sake. If you’re new to strong ales, share the pint — the high alcohol content and strong flavor means that it’s best enjoyed in smaller quantities.
Occasion: Beer-tasting with friends, a slow night chatting at an uncrowded bar, or a night at home.
Similar Brews: Surly Abrasive Ale
“This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth.” Thus reads the beginning of an eloquent yet saucy couple of paragraphs on the back of a bottle of Arrogant Bastard Ale. It’s a popular beer on tap at one of my local bars, and I decided to give it try. The bottle certainly intrigued me. Given this beer’s taste (a punch-packing combination of bitter and sweet,) I’d consider it more of a sassy beer than an aggressive one. Arrogant Bastard is perfect for winter time, especially if you’re looking for something that is rich but provides a refreshing change from heavy stouts.
The sweetness is also different; the flavors of winter seem to be stouts with their cream and chocolate, while Arrogant Bastard’s sweetness is more of a caramel-nut flavor. With its dark red-amber hue and thin foam, it is a beautiful beer. It is best served ice cold, and the first sip is pure luxury. (Avoid anything pale after this beer. It tends to make lighter beers seem watery.) The alcohol content is high at 7.2%. You definitely don’t want to chug this beer down, (and you probably can’t) but it takes a certain type of beer lover to drink Arrogant Bastard in large quantities.
It’s hard to know what to pair with this ale. Heavy food can easily get overwhelming with a strong ale. If you’re lucky enough to have the indulgence of enjoying a beer during the day, AB would go well with a lunch-time meal. Try this sandwich, as the lightness would probably balance out the hops. If you do want to pair it with dinner, try a minimally-sauced dish that won’t compete with the “aggressive” flavor.A dish with citrus will brighten up this ale’s heaviness.